LGBT inclusion should come from leadership

100 business leaders have been noted for their passionate commitment to LGBT+ rights at work

Business leaders that worked hard to further LGBT inclusion in their organisations have been commended as role models for workplace equality in a published list.

The OUTstanding Role Model Lists

Each year, LGBT+ professional network charity Involve in partnership with Yahoo Finance UK publish the names of prolific LGBT+ business leaders worldwide and the latest 2020 Top 100 LGBT+ Executives list is no exemption. Submissions were reviewed by a panel of judges including Global Consumer and Payments Head at Barclays, Ashok Vaswani, Independent Director at Grosvenor Estates GBI, Dawn Airey, and Head of Yahoo Finance UK, Lianna Brinded. The finalists were selected based on the long-term solutions they were pursuing to tackle LGBT+ inequality in their workplace as well as demonstrable evidence of their passion for inclusion issues beyond their roles.

Some of the finalists

Beth Ford President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, a US farming cooperative, has made it to the top of the list for 2020. Her work includes leading the firm’s ‘Executive D&I Council’ which includes their ‘Supplier Diversity Programme’ that partners with LGBT+ businesses. The company’s ‘Land O’Lakes’ Pride Alliance’ supports LGBT+ community groups in the twin cities region of Minnesota, US where they are only one of two Fortune 500 companies raising awareness about transgender issues.

Allyn L. Shaw, President, and CTO of New York-based waste management company Recycle Track Systems, secured his place in the top ten by being an advocate for minority representation generally. Between 2018 and 2020, gender balance grew under his leadership to 41% from 30% while the number of BAME employees grew to 31% from 20%. Shaw has also ensured that diversity and inclusion discussions went further by engaging the company in bi-monthly meetings to discuss these topics. Outside work, Shaw is a board member of US organisation ‘Directors of OUT & Equal’ where he leads a transgender recruiting effort for the banking sector.

Tony Wood, Partner & UK and Ireland Managing Director at asset management firm, Mercer has been listed for the third year in a row. He serves as an executive sponsor for his company’s ‘LGBT + Pride Group’ in the UK where over the past two years, he has helped establish new rights for sexual minorities. The policies he has worked on include securing trans healthcare benefits, gender-neutral toilets, and the implementation of explicit LGBT+ examples across the company’s HR policies. Wood has also helped champion the use of pronouns in email signatures and started the firm’s ‘LGBTQ+ recruitment and support programme’.

Involve’s Founder and CEO, Suki Sandhu said: “I’m thrilled to be celebrating another amazing group of LGBT+ and Ally Role Models from across the globe who are championing inclusion and inspiring the next generation of talent. LGBT+ discrimination is still prevalent across the world and role models are essential to change perceptions and show everyone that you can be successful in business while also being your authentic self at work.”   

LGBT workplace statistics and the need for role models

Figures compiled over the last few years about LGBT+ inclusion at work show that more needs to be done to make businesses fully equal for sexual minorities. In 2018, inclusion charity Stonewall found that 18% of LGBT+ employees felt targeted by colleagues due to their sexuality. The same report discovered that 38% of bi people and 26% of trans people had not come out at work due to fears of discrimination.

A 2019 British trade union report revealed that 68% of LGBT+ employees said they had experienced harassment in the workplace while a US study of the same year revealed little confidence among the LGBT+ community about their workplace rights. Only 39% of LGBT+ respondents believed their workplace was committed to promoting inclusion which shows that employers must do more to make this community feel enfranchised at work. To encourage LGBT+ workplace inclusion, establishing policy safeguards that are more than lip-service and shining a light on leaders who are championing these issues is crucial. With studies showing that an inclusive workplace can improve a company’s bottom line, employee satisfaction, and attract Gen Z talent, it’s good for everyone involved.

To view the rest of the top 100 list, please click here.

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